Welcome Stranger Cocktail

Welcome Stranger Cocktail
1/6 Grenadine. (1/2 oz Small Hand Foods Grenadine)
1/6 Lemon Juice. (1/2 oz Lemon Juice)
1/6 Orange Juice. (1/2 oz Orange Juice)
1/6 Gin. (1/2 oz Junipero Gin)
1/6 Cederlund’s Swedish Punch. (1/2 oz Underhill Punch)
1/6 Brandy. (1/2 oz Dudognon Cognac Reserve. Talk about over kill, eh? Sadly, it is all I have in the house at the moment.)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

This cocktail is likely from Harry McElhone’s “ABC of Cocktails”, in which Harry notes, “Invented by the author.”

Wow, 6 ingredients and a great name! An interestingly proto-exotic drink from Mr. McElhone, eh? Orgeat, instead of Grenadine, with a float of sherry and you’re pretty much got Trader Vic’s Fog Cutter!

The use of Swedish Punch gives this an interesting character and is the dominant element in this equal parts cocktail.

Maybe I’ve gone crazy and Savoy Cocktails have warped my brain and palate, but this isn’t bad at all.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

The Violet Hour

Well, you might have noticed that there were a few “S” cocktails missing from the Savoy Stomp…

Chicago’s a funny city. One of the largest cities in the country, it is also one of the hardest drinking party towns in the Midwest. Gangsters and Speakeasies played a big part during prohibition, but after prohibition, like elsewhere, there was a bit of a lull in cocktail culture.

Even after new classic cocktail bars started opening in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, the Midwest has lagged behind, caught in the culture of bigger is better.

Chicago, though, seemed like it could do better. A fabulous culinary destination, arguably one of the best in the whole of the United States.  How long until a bar in Chicago took cocktails as seriously as restaurants like Alinea, avec, or blackbird?

With thoughts along those lines, Toby Maloney and his partners opened The Violet Hour in late June of 2007.

Toby,

I’ll be in Chicago for a dinner at Alinea on Thurs.  We’re staying
through the weekend to relax.

Hoping to stop by The Violet Hour (finally!)

Do you still have anything to do with that venue?

I do need to photograph at least this week’s 5 Savoy Cocktails (Star
through Stinger) somewhere in Chicago.

Seemed like The Violet Hour might be a fun place to do it.

Think anyone there would be interested?

Best,

Erik E.

Hey Erik,

I am happy to say I am an owner of The Violet Hour so I will always have my fingers in it. It would be my pleasure to get you a rezo at TVH anytime you want. Many people find a cocktail after Alinea is the perfect thing to decompress and settle the stomach. YAY Cynar.

I am checking with one of my people to see when they can make time for your photo shoot. Do you want the place to be open?

As soon as I hear back I will shoot you an other email.

Cheers,
Toby

Hey Toby,

Alinea is on Pernod-Ricard’s dime and there are quite a few bartenders
in tow, so perhaps we’ll make it over afterwards. I’ll suggest it,
unless they have already been in contact. Those Amaro based cocktails
were looking pretty darn appealing to me, and it is only 11:00AM here.

Usually before open or during a bit of a slow time is best for
photography. If such a thing exists at TVH. Is Saturday jammed from
open? I hate to get in the way of opening chores. Sunday at 5 or 6?
Whatever works.

Would be nice to do a bit of an interview and such, if they don’t
mind, and get some pictures of the atmosphere. Always curious about
the cocktail scene in other locales.

Erik E.

Toby,

Simon Ford appears somewhat taken with the idea of visiting TVH for a
post-prandial nightcap.

Our Alinea reservation is on Thurs at 7, I guess that means some time
around 11 or 12?

I will text closer to the time, if the idea gains traction.

Erik E.

I might need a little more notice than hours. Lynette is in I know, You, your wife and Simon make enough for me to make you a rezo in the back room. Any new info should be txted to me to insure prompt action to this fluid situation.

Cheers,
Toby

Well, nothing like rolling in with a bunch of high profile bartenders who have already been drinking, to put a place on edge. I know I always get nervous. Will they break anything? What will my hangover be like tomorrow morning?

Fortunately, we did not break anything, and all went well. Delicious post-prandial libations, perfect to sate our stuffed stomachs.

The next night Mrs. Flannestad and I traveled back to The Violet Hour in Wicker Park, this time to try a few Savoy Cocktails. Unfortunately, among the next 12, or so, cocktails, there wasn’t a lot of greatness. Michael Rubel did his best to maintain his cool and make the cocktails work. But some were just not that great.

Star Cocktail (No. 1)
1 Teaspoonful Grape Fruit Juice.
1 Dash Italian Vermouth.
1 Dash French Vermouth.
1/2 Calvados or Apple Brandy.
1/2 Dry Gin.
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.
Harry McElhone notes this was, “A very popular cocktail at the Plaza, New York.”

Tastes, I guess, change. We first tried it with Carpano Antica, Noilly Prat Dry, Busnel V.S.O.P. Calvados, and Anchor Junipero Gin. Pretty close to undrinkable. Michael, not being one to admit defeat, had to mix it again, this time massaging the amounts a bit and using Bombay Gin instead of the Junipero. As he said, “it isn’t going to rock your world,” but it was at least drinkable.

Messing around later, I found a version made with 1 teaspoon M&R Bianco, 1 teaspoon Carpano Antica, 1 teaspoon Grapefruit, 1 oz Laird’s Apple Brandy, and 1 oz Krogstad Aquavit to be actually enjoyable. Your mileage may vary, but, made literally, this classic cocktail is definitely one of questionable merit.

Star Cocktail (No. 2)
1/2 Italian Vermouth.
1/2 Applejack or Calvados.
(dash House “Aromatic Elixir”)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Michael went with 1/2 Carpano Antica, 1/2 Laird’s Bottled in Bond, and, after a brief query, “I’d put bitters in this, wouldn’t you?” he suggested we add Violet Hour House Aromatic Elixir to the cocktail. Maybe it was the previous Star Cocktails, but what a relief to be drinking an Apple Brandy Manhattan! Whew!

Stomach Reviver Cocktail
5 Dashes Angostura Bitters.
1/6 Fernet Branca.
2/3 Brandy.
2/3 Kummel.
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

This cocktail just seemed so appropriate for a bar which has a section of its cocktail menu based on Amaros! Plus, it’s just odd to find a bar with Kummel on the back bar! We used Maison Surrene Petit Champagne Cognac, Kaiser Kummel, Fernet and around an eighth of an ounce of Angostura!

And nice it was, a fine example of extreme Fernet Mixology. About our only criticism would be, it was almost nicer before it was chilled and diluted. Maybe I’m just used to drinking Fernet at room temp, but the flavors seemed a bit muted after the cocktail was cold.

Stinger Cocktail
1/4 White Crème de Menthe.
3/4 Brandy.
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to drink a Stinger, but as we were talking, Michael had a funny story. He mentioned that it was one of Dale DeGroff’s favorite cocktails, and when he was working in New York, he got an order from the great man. For some reason, which I fail to exactly recall, he decided to make it, instead of with Cognac, but with a (very nice) Spanish Brandy.

The next Saturday night Michael was working, in the height of the evening’s rush, Mr. DeGroff came back to talk to him, and explain in no uncertain terms, without concern for how busy Mr. Rubel was, precisely why it was wrong to use Spanish Brandy and exactly the way he preferred his Stingers, thank you very much.

Well, after that story, how could I not finish the evening with a Stinger prepared by Mr. Rubel?

This evening we made the stinger with Brizard White Creme de Menthe and Maison Surenne Petit Champagne Cognac.  You can’t say Michael did not learn his lesson. We did serve it up, per the Savoy Cocktail Book, and I believe Mr. DeGroff prefers his over cracked ice. FYI, just in case you get an order for one from him one busy Saturday night.

I can’t say I entirely see the appeal of the Stinger, I did think it could use a bit less Creme de Menthe. I also believe I agree with Mr. DeGroff and prefer it over cracked ice.

This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder, when the affections glow again and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen magically along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn.
– Bernard DeVoto “The Hour”

I have to thank Toby and especially Michael and Maura of The Violet Hour staff for making me welcome and putting up with a couple pretty awful Savoy Cocktails. The most inspiring thing, as a bartender and customer, that I took away from our evenings at The Violet Hour, was that the staff were great hosts. I loved watching the truly professional way they interacted with each other, the customers, and kept their bar top in order. Amazing. Although I didn’t see the unicorn this time, I certainly hope it won’t be another 3 years before I get a chance to return and look for it again!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sazerac Cocktail (Bitter Truth Creole Bitters)

Bonus Sazerac!

I challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February, but I’m not quite done. We’ve got a few bonus Sazeracs coming up that didn’t fit into the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me.

014

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar.
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (Or even better, Bitter Truth Creole Bitters!)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (Or Cognac)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with 1 dash Absinthe and squeeze lemon peel on top.

The Bitter Truth is working on approval for the sale of a new product in the US called “Creole Bitters”. Based on a sampling of a pre-prohibition version of Peychaud’s, it is similar to Peychaud’s but distinct. To my taste, it has a stronger herbal component, and less bitter almond/cherry than modern Peychaud’s.

I guess the primary genesis for the product was that Peychaud’s, while fairly easy to come by in the US, can be quite difficult to find outside the country. And while the number of cocktails that call for Peychaud’s bitters is not particularly long, many of those that do are true classics: Sazerac, Vieux Carre, and Pendennis Club Special.

When I heard that Stephan Berg and Alexander Hauk were going to be bartending for a special event sponsored by Cask at Bourbon and Branch and that they would have their new Creole Bitters with them, how could I not stop by and ask for a Sazerac?

The proprietors at Bourbon and Branch, even bent the rules, and let me take a photo!

From my taste of their product in a Sazerac, I certainly hope it makes it through the approval process quickly.  My bottle of Peychaud’s is getting a bit low and after tasting the Creole bitters, I know which bitters I would like to buy next.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Hell Cocktail

Hell Cocktail
(6 People)

Shake (or stir, what does it matter?) 3 glasses of Cognac (1 1/2 oz Cerbois VSOP Armangnac) and 3 glasses of Green Crème de Menthe (1/2 oz Brizard White Creme de Menthe). Serve with a pinch of red pepper (Cayenne Pepper) on each glass.

Glasses are, of course, 2 ounces. 12 ounces, total, for 6 people, makes it 2 oz per serving.

A half an ounce of Creme de Menthe seemed like plenty to me so I upped the Brandy.

I put it in a liqueur glass, because, frankly, this is a shooter.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Fancy Cocktail

Fancy Cocktail
(6 People)
Pour into the shaker 5 glasses of Cognac and a dessertspoonful of Angostura Bitters. Shake thoroughly and serve, adding a little champagne and a piece of lemon-rind after having rubbed the edges of the glasses with lemon syrup.

I usually make this cocktail, something like this:

Fancy Cocktail for one

Rub the rim of a cocktail glass with a slice of lemon. Frost the edge with superfine or caster sugar. Pour into the shaker 2 oz Cognac and a generous dash of Angostura Bitters. Stir with cracked ice until well chilled, and strain into the frosted glass. Top up with a bit of champagne, squeeze a piece of lemon peel over the glass and drop it in.

Cocktail disambiguation via David Wondrich’s “Imbibe!

In Mr. Wondrich’s book, he divides the types of “cocktail” into the following categories, “Original”, “Plain”, “Fancy”, “Improved”, and “Old-Fashioned”.

“Original Cocktail”, is ye olde bittered sling, specification of spirits, bitters, sugar, and water. Nutmeg optional.

“Plain Cocktail” is Gum syrup, bitters, spirits, and curacao served on the rocks with a twist of lemon.

“Fancy Cocktail” is Gum syrup, bitters, spirits, and curacao, stirred with ice, and strained into another glass and garnished with a twist of lemon.

“Improved Cocktail” is Gum syrup, bitters, spirits, maraschino liqueur, absinthe, stirred with ice, strained into another glass and garnished with a twist of lemon.

And “Old-fashioned Cocktail” is the “original” served with rocks instead of water and a lemon twist instead of nutmeg.

Anyway, he notes the “Fancy” category sometimes included a frosted rim, a la Crusta, or a top up of champanski. Hey, who would argue? Though, I wonder what sort of individual would say, “Excuse me barkeep, believe I will have a fancy brandy cocktail, thank you!”

As the “Savoy Cocktail Book” seems to have the most bad luck transcribing these pre-prohibition of cocktails, (see the Savoy “Coffee Cocktail” and “Brandy Crusta” for other poorly transcribed examples,) their “Fancy Cocktail” recipe makes almost no sense. I mean, how can you “rub the edges of a glass with lemon syrup”? Just sounds really messy to me. They have also decided to solidify on Cognac and leave out the Curacao. No tremendous loss there.

I’ve sort of gone with the Chicago method for the “Fancy Cocktail” and left it at that.

I like the “Chicago Cocktail” and I like the “Fancy Cocktail.” Guess that makes me some sort of flannel wearing dandy. Woo!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Depth Charge Brandy Cocktail

Depth Charge Brandy Cocktail

Depth Charge Brandy Cocktail

Depth Charge Brandy Cocktail (6 People)

Carefully shake together 2 1/2 glasses of Brandy, and the same amount of Calvados to which has been added 2 dessertspoonsful of Grenadine and 4 of Lemon Juice.

Adapted For 1.

Generous 1 oz of Maison Surrenne Petite Champagne Cognac
Generous 1 oz Clear Creek Apple Brandy
Teaspoon Homemade Grenadine
Juice 1/4 Lemon

Shake and strain into cocktail glass.

The Cognac is really the dominant element here, with the other ingredients playing supporting roles. Really an enjoyable cocktail, being much more spirit forward than the traditional Sidecar or Jack Rose.

I guess I am puzzled as to what it might have to do with the preceding “Depth Charge Cocktail“.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Coffee Cocktail

Coffee Cocktail

The Yolk of 1 Egg.
1 Teaspoonful Sugar or Gomme Syrup.
1/3 Port Wine. (1 oz?)
1/6 Brandy. (1/2 oz?)
1 Dash Curacao.

Shake well, strain into a small wineglass, and grate a little nutmeg on top.

The name of this drink is a misnomer, as coffee is not to be found among its ingredients, but it looks like coffee when it has been properly concocted.

The Savoy recipe for the Coffee Cocktail doesn’t make much sense to me. Small, quite sweet, and very eggy. Notably, it is the only Savoy recipe I’ve noticed so far, where the fractions don’t add up to a whole. Typo? Evidence that the fractions are actually portions of some standard measure rather than the total volume of before chill liquids?

Thanks to the DrinkBoy forums, Dale DeGroff, and Darcy O’Neil, I recently found out it is originally from Jerry Thomas’ book.

Thomas’ version is as follows:

Coffee Cocktail.
(Use a large bar-glass.)
Take 1 tea-spoonful powdered white sugar.
1 fresh egg.
1 large wine-glass of port wine. (2 oz?)
1 pony of brandy. (1 oz?)
2 or 3 lumps of ice.

Break the egg into the glass, put in the sugar, and lastly the port wine, brandy and ice. Shake up very thoroughly, and strain into a medium bar goblet. Grate a little nutmeg on top before serving.

The name of this drink is a misnomer, as coffee and bitters are not to be found among its ingredients, but it looks like coffee when it has been properly concocted, and hence probably its name.

Makes more sense, though uses a whole egg and leaves out the Curacao.

Of particular interest, is the fact that Craddock (or the Savoy editors) leave out the critical, “and bitters,” from the comments. So, we see Thomas (or whoever wrote his copy) discriminating a traditional “Cocktail” as containing bitters, while the Savoy pointedly does not.

I split the difference and semi-accidentally upped the booze to port ratio:

Coffee Cocktail

Coffee Cocktail

The Yolk of 1 Egg.
1 Teaspoonful Caster Sugar.
1 1/2 oz Ficklin Old Vine Tinta Port.
1 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac.
1 Teaspoonful Brizard Orange Curacao.

Shake well, strain into a small wineglass, and grate a little nutmeg on top.

Very nice. I will have to go back and redo it with the proper amounts of port and brandy.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Chicago Cocktail

Chicago Cocktail

Chicago Cocktail

1 Dash Angostura Bitters
1 Dash Curacao (Senior Curacao of Curacao)
2/3 Brandy (1 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Frost edge of glass with castor sugar and fill with Champagne (Cremant de Limoux, J. Laurens Brut).

Probably a lot easier to frost the glass with caster sugar before you strain the cocktail in to it!

A very nice variation on the champagne cocktail. I’m not normally a fan of the sugar rim, as most cocktails are plenty sweet without the extra sugar. Plus, the sugar tends to make drinking the cocktail a sticky and goopy proposition.

However, in this cocktail, the sugar rim makes for an intersting construction. The liquid itself is somewhat dry, very nearly compelling you to go around the rim sucking the drink through the sugar to experience the whole cocktail. A very cool tension between execution and flavor.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Cherry Blossom Cocktail

Cherry Blossom Cocktail

Cherry Blossom (6 people)

To a glass half full of cracked ice add a tablespoon of dry Curacao (dash senior Curacao of Curacao), one of Lemon Juice (1 TBSP fresh), one of Grenadine (Fee’s American Beauty Grenadine), 2 1/2 glasses of Cherry Brandy (1 oz Cherry Heering Liqueur) and 2 of brandy (1 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac).

Shake thoroughly and serve very cold.

I’ll admit I increased the ratio of lemon here and decreased the Curacao, when re-doing the cocktail for 1 person.

It just seemed like it was going to be waaay too sweet if I left the ratio as is.

As made, it tastes pretty much like drinking a glass of cold cherry juice.

That’s not bad; but, it really doesn’t seem much like a cocktail. More like the missing link between the Sidecar and the Shirley Temple.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Apricot Cocktail (Dry)

Apricot Cocktail (Dry)
(6 People)
Cut 2 Apricots (1 Apricot) in half, break the stones* and let the whole soak for 2 hours in a glass and a half of Cognac (2 oz Korbel VSOP Brandy). Add two teaspoonfuls of Peach Bitters (1 tsp. Fee’s Peach Bitters), 2 glasses of Gin (2 oz Beefeater’s Gin) and 2 glasses of French Vermouth (2 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth). Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. (Garnish each glass by dropping in a thin, ripe peach wedge.)

The amounts in the parenthesis are for 2 relatively modern size drinks instead of 6 tiny 1930s era drinks.

This is a pretty odd bird of a cocktail. An apricot scented Martini? I can’t think of many other fruit flavored cocktails that aren’t at least somewhat sweet. Still, all in all quite pleasant. If it’s apricot season, and you like Martinis, give it a try.

*I will note that the kernels of all members of the rose family, including apricots, contain cyanogenic glycosides which on ingestion release hydrogen cyanide. The amounts of these chemicals vary from plant to plant and species to species. Bitter almonds generally contain the most, and eating 50-70 bitter almonds in one sitting is enough to be fatal for an adult human. I would not recommend sitting down and drinking 50 Apricot cocktails at once. Fortunately, in most people, small amounts of these chemicals are rapidly broken down by their livers, and do not build up over time, so small doses are generally regarded as safe.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.